New details about the death of Tyre Nichols are adding to the mounting pressure for a full release of the body camera video.
Two EMT workers have been placed on leave just as preliminary details of the Tennessee man’s autopsy shed light on how he died after a brutal police encounter.
Two Memphis EMTs who arrived at the scene to tend to Tyre Nichols, 29, are currently “relieved of duty” while officials complete an internal investigation.
The unnamed EMTs responded to where a beaten and bruised Nichols encountered five Memphis police officers following a traffic stop on Jan. 7.
Memphis Councilman J.B. Smiley said the EMTs “were in the ambulance” during a town hall meeting on Jan. 24, WMC reported.
The EMTs were part of Nichols’ “initial patient care,” Memphis Fire Department spokeswoman Qwanesha Ward told Reuters. She did not confirm if the EMTs were actual firefighters nor if they were being paid while on leave.
Meanwhile, preliminary details from Nichols’ independent autopsy are filling out the picture of how he died.
Nichols’ family attorney, Ben Crump, released a statement saying, “Tyre suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating, and that his observed injuries are consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police.”
The full autopsy report has not been released at this time.
Body camera video of Nichols’ final moments has not been released publicly despite mounting pressure to do so. Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told The Associated Press that “he feared that releasing the video too early in the investigation could influence witnesses. He asked for patience from the public.”
“We, the taxpayers, paid for it, and this is about transparency, and damn it, we’re going to have it, or we need a refund on our tax dollars. The public wants to see what happened. We need to know if we’re really employing people who think it’s okay to beat the s–t out of folks,” Memphis resident P. Moses said during a Jan. 24 City Council meeting.
Nichols’ family saw the body camera video in a private viewing on Jan. 23.
“What I saw on the video today was horrific. No father or mother should have to witness what I witnessed today,” Tyre Nichols’ stepfather Rodney Wells said after reviewing the body camera footage.
“They murdered him,” is how RowVaughn Wells, Nichols’ mother, described the body camera video.
Nichols was involved in a traffic stop on the evening of Jan. 7 after being pulled over for “reckless driving,” according to police. The officers approached Nichols’ vehicle, and a “confrontation” occurred. Nichols managed to run away on foot but was apprehended by the officers, and a second “confrontation” occurred. Police still have not provided specifics into what the confrontations entailed, but the result left Nichols experiencing “shortness of breath.”
Nichols was taken to the hospital in critical condition. He succumbed to his injuries on Jan. 10.
The five Memphis police officers were later fired on Jan. 20 after an internal investigation found them responsible for Nichols’ death. The department said Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith “violated multiple department policies, including excessive force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid.”
Former officer Haley was involved in an alleged assault on an inmate in May 2015. The lawsuit filed by Cardarlrius Sledge accused Haley and other corrections officers at the time of beating him, including hitting him in the face with punches. Sledge claimed he lost consciousness during the alleged beating and woke up in a medical unit.
The lawsuit stemming from the incident was “ultimately dismissed for procedural reasons,” the Independent reported.
Nichols’ death is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office.
“Our federal investigation may take some time, as these things often do, but we will be diligent and make decisions based on the facts and the law,” Kevin Ritz, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, said in a news conference on Jan. 25.
Crump said the city expects to publicly release the video of Nichols’ violent arrest within one to two weeks.
The Shelby County District Attorney said in a statement, “we’re working with the appropriate agencies to determine how quickly we can release the video and will do so as soon as we can.”
Although the district attorney is investigating if criminal charges are appropriate for the Memphis officers involved, no charges have been filed at this time.